JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
LOUISA, Ky. - The death of a Mingo County man was an accident in the opinion of Lawrence County Sheriff Garrett Roberts.
Shawn Blackwell, 25, of Matewan, drowned Sunday while swimming at Yatesville Lake near Louisa.
Sheriff Roberts said Blackwell was one of three friends who were at the lake, two were swimming from one shoreline to another when Blackwell called for help.
“He yelled for help,” Sheriff Roberts told the Daily News. “His friends asked if he was serious, he told them he was, and they tried to help him.”
The search for Blackwell began at approximately 3:30 Sunday afternoon, was suspended at 9:45 p.m. and resumed at 8 a.m. Monday. His body was recovered at 3 p.m., using side scan sonar.
Louisa Fire Chief Eddie Preston happened to be at Yatesville Lake with his family Roberts said, but he was unable to help Blackwell.
“Chief Preston was in the water within five minutes,” Roberts said. “We had divers in the lake within 20 minutes, but the water was so murky, visibility was at zero.”
Blackwell’s body was recovered in water 14-feet deep, only 15 to 20 feet from where he was seen going under the surface.
Roberts said he did not think drugs or alcohol were a factor in the accident, and that he did not foresee any charges being filed.
“It was just a tragic situation,” Sheriff Roberts said.
It was only the second drowning at Yatesville since the lake opened in 1997, Sheriff Roberts said.
The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department was assisted on the scene by the Grayson Dive and Rescue team, the Louisa and Ashland Fire Departments, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Blackwell’s body was sent to county Coroner Mike Wilson in Lawrence County.